Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are three insights for remote schools to understand how strategic staffing can work better for students and faculty during this time. 

• How can donors support faculty and educators during the COVID-19 pandemic? How can schools innovate solutions? 

• Read more about educator coaching during the pandemic. 

Virtual school is undoubtedly an undesirable reality for the fall semester. So, its inevitability for many schools begs the need for a deep look at the math that may enable at least some students to come back to the classroom.

Critical for the new school year is a deep understanding among decision-makers for educational models that will best serve students. Once that’s in place, districts must also be able to figure out how their communities can design remote schooling now to facilitate a strong transition to at least some in-person instruction — especially for the most vulnerable students — when it’s safe to do so. And our research shows that the number of students that districts can serve in-person will depend in part on insights gleaned from three important calculations.

Most districts now understand that a hybrid in-person-remote model can reduce group sizes by as much as half. But instead of looking at a transition from remote to in-person school as an across-the-board decision, understanding the math of such a transition could help schools get a lot more students back into the classroom earlier.

  • Insight 1: Existing teacher staffing levels matter — a lot. The truth is, there’s a wide spectrum of staffing levels in American school districts, and those with a more robust staff to start will have more options to serve students in person at the smaller group sizes required for physical distancing.
  • Insight 2: Strategic staffing of remote instruction can free resources for in-person school. The more that a district can increase the student-teacher ratio for remote instruction, the more teachers will be available to offer in-person instruction in smaller group sizes when it’s safe to do so.
  • Insight 3: More students can be served in person with greater flexibility in teacher and staff roles. The types of roles that districts and schools have flexibility to change, and how much, will vary significantly based on local context such as common school staff positions, the specific combination of skills among staff and collective bargaining agreements.

Read the full article about designing remote schools effectively by Tiffany Zhou and Jonathan Travers at The 74.